Chelsea Manning -Photograph by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images
LAST WEEK was a bad public-relations episode for Harvard. On Tuesday, the Marshall Project, a news organization covering criminal justice, reported that University leadership had reversed the admission of Michelle Jones, who had been recommended for admission to Harvard’s history Ph.D. program; she had served 20 years in prison for the murder of a child she had as a teenager, but subsequently earned a reputation as a promising historian through a prison education program. (Her application was also rejected by Yale, though it’s unclear whether her crime played a role; she has started a Ph.D. at New York University.) Then, last Thursday, the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) rescinded Chelsea Manning’s appointment as a visiting fellow this fall, after backlash from CIA director Mike Pompeo, J.D. ’94, who canceled a scheduled appearance at the school. Manning had served seven years in prison for leaking classified government documents, after being granted clemency by then-President Barack Obama in January. Both of Harvard’s decisions provoked criticism in the media, and, yesterday, were condemned from within the community by 162 University faculty members who signed a Harvard Crimson op-ed.
“Harvard has prioritized political expediency over scholarly values. Rather than stand on principle and procedure,” they argued, “Harvard has undermined the pursuit of its core academic mission by acting out of fear of negative publicity.” They continued:
With Michelle Jones, the administration took the highly unusual step of overturning the History Department’s decision to admit Jones to its doctoral program. In doing so, it not only violated departmental autonomy in evaluating and admitting students, it disregarded the labor and expertise of its faculty. Faculty of Arts and Sciences administrators appear to have arrived at this decision not because they questioned the Department’s judgment of Jones’s scholarly merits, but out of concern over a potential backlash for admitting a formerly incarcerated student to the University.
The text also urged the administration to add candidates’ criminal history to the University’s existing non-discrimination policies; to provide support for faculty interested in prison education; and to invite Chelsea Manning to speak on BGLTQ issues.
Read full on :Harvard Magazine com
From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones — By ELI HAGER on NEW York Times com
Andrew Falk, left, with Ms. Jones, center, and Natalie Medley in a housing policy class at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis. CreditAndrew Spear for The Marshall Project
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We, the undersigned faculty, write to protest the University’s decisions to overturn Michelle Jones’s admission to the Ph.D. program in History and to rescind a fellowship offer to Chelsea Manning at the Kennedy School. With both decisions, Harvard has prioritized political expediency over scholarly values. Rather than stand on principle and procedure, Harvard has undermined the pursuit of its core academic mission by acting out of fear of negative publicity.
Read more on:The Harvard Crimson com